Friday, January 8, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Fridays@7: January 8th

Jaap van Zweden, Conductor
Wagenaar: Overture: Cyrano de Bergerac, Op. 23
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
Post-Concert music by Polygraph Lounge

This weekend is a little unusual in that the Orchestra is performing more or less the same program with three different formats: The traditional concert format, the Fridays@7 format, Musically Speaking. Being a fan of both "alternate" formats, I attended tonight for Fridays@7 and will be back Sunday Afternoon for Musically Speaking/Beyond the Score.

People speak of "brightness" when it refers to music and I've honestly never really understood the usage; I probably couldn't express it in words, listening to the orchestra play tonight the first thought that popped into my head was "wow, they sound brighter than I remember" -- especially the strings. I liked it. I was seated a little more to the right than usual -- Box 12 -- so I'm not sure if the playing was different or if it was an acoustical phenomena.

This weekends concerts are believed to be the Orchestra's first performances of Wagenaar's Overture from Cyrano de Bergerac. Based on the age of the composition that surprises me, but it was a wonderful beginning to the evening by a work and composer that I was unaware of.

I'll have a more in-depth understanding of (and post on) Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 after Sunday's performances, but the Pizzicato 3rd movement scherzo was fascinating and probably the longest example of pizzicato I've heard to date.

One of the beauties of the Fridays @ 7 format is the combination of a known quantity [The Cleveland Orchestra and great classical music] with the completely unknown.

In tonight's case the "completely unknown" was Polygraph Lounge. To attempt to describe Polygraph Lounge would be an exercise in futility; an interesting mix of new music, parody, and reinterpertatons of classical pieces strung together. I most enjoyed the pieces where the were joined by six members of the Orchestra and by a female soloist with a fantastic voice (who's name I missed); and the fishsticks gag made me more than a touch uncomfortable.

This time instead of utilizing the foyer the post-concert music remained in the hall. While this changed the feel for the evening, based on the style of music it was probably the best choice.

Particularly interesting to me was the use of a Theramin. I'm pretty sure I've never heard one live before, and in fact am only aware of the instrument as a result of my unhealthy relationship with my TiVo (I swear it knows what I like to watch on TV better than I do) -- an episode of "CIA Secrets" on Investigation: Discovery sometime in the past few months discussed the invention, the inventor, and the principles behind espionage. According to that program at least, Léon Theremin took advantage of his time in the US Patent Office).


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